As I have written here before, I’ve spent a good amount of my summer handling the estate of my deceased parents. Hopefully, it will all be wrapped up by Thanksgiving.
After everything is settled, I’m going to treat myself to one present: a full frame camera.
I’ve already written about why I want a full frame camera, so I won’t rehash that discussion here. Suffice it to say that if I had a top of the line APS-C camera, I probably wouldn’t be making this choice. But, even though I do love the image quality on my Pentax K-01, I think it’s time to move on up.
One thing you probably don’t know about me is my total inability to make decisions. My wife is great at making decisions. That’s not the set up to a Henny Youngman joke, it’s the truth. My wife needs a new pair of shoes, she can go to one store, try on one pair of shoes and if they are even remotely close to being good enough, they’ll do nicely, thank you very much. Me? If I need a new pair of shoes, I say hello to about half a dozen stores and about two dozen pairs before I’ll even consider laying down real money. It’s just how I’m wired. There is always this nagging voice in my head asking if they are really the best fit, is that really the lowest price, and what about that one store down the street, don’t you want to just pop in and see what they have? What if I got this pair and they have something even nicer? My God, it’s amazing that I get out of bed some days.
So, if that’s my thought process for shoes, you can imagine what it’s like inside my head deciding on a $2,000+ camera kit. Holy Toledo.
The decision to go to a full frame camera means, sadly, moving away from Pentax. I have been one of their biggest cheerleaders ever since I bought my K-x back in 2009. Pentax has been, and will continue to be the biggest and best bang for your buck in photography, bar none. But, even with the latest Pentax FF rumors swirling around, I just can’t wait anymore. I’m sorry Pentax, you’ve been great. It’s not you, it’s me. I’m just in a really weird place right now.
At this point, I’ve narrowed my choices down to either a Canon 6D or Nikon D610, the entry level full frame offerings from both companies. I have decided to take a pass on the Sony A7. The small size of the A7 is a huge positive, no question, but I just hit a wall when I look at the lens selection. I know that Sony are aware of their limited range, and are committed to expanding that as soon as possible, however, as above, I just can’t wait anymore.
And don’t talk to me about adapters. I have no desire to shell out $400 for an adapter so a lens can work half as good as it should.
With two very good choices, and I know that both are very good at what they do, how can I possibly make a decision without driving my car into a wall in desperation?
Test drive. I’ll rent each, and see how I like both. Brilliant.
Before I go any further, a quick shout out to LensRentals, who have made this an absolutely hassle free experience. I highly recommend them.
For a weekend I rented the Canon 6D, and two lenses; a Sigma 24-105mm F/4 DG OS HSM Lens, and a 50mm F/1.4. I’ve been shooting exclusively with prime lenses for a while know, so I always knew that I was going to get a 50mm. Plus, probably, an 85mm, we’ll see. But I still don’t know what to get on the wide angle side of the spectrum. I had read some great reviews of the Sigma “Art” lens, and was curious to try it out.
First impressions were this: My God, look at the size of that thing. Here’s a comparison between my humble K-01 and the 6D with the Sigma lens.
I felt I was finally playing with a big boy camera. Too wild.
I went out shooting with it on the first day and it was a big learning curve. In a lot of ways. First, while I normally praise the image quality on my K-01, the serious downside to that camera is the focusing. I’m sure continental drift happens faster. For the first few times I’ve pointed the 6D, it was focused before I even realized it was focused. I actually stood there thinking “Why hasn’t this focused yet?” This is not because the Canon is super fast, but because what I’ve gotten used to was so mind-numbingly slow.
The Nikon D610 actually has more auto-focus points than the 6D, but I can’t tell yet if that will be a factor.
The image quality I was getting for those first few days was good, an improvement to be sure, but there was something absent. I think my expectations were way too high, I was expecting full frame magic to be dripping from every shot I suppose. I was expecting to be blown away and I wasn’t.
Not until I put the 50mm lens on.
Then I took this picture. Here’s the link to it in full res. Now we are talking.
There is no going back after looking at this shot. I need this camera in my life. Now. Well, this or the D610, we’ll see.
There are many things to think about, especially since I won’t be just buying a camera, I will be buying into a whole different system. For example, I’ve hardly heard anyone say good things about Nikon customer service, and then how Nikon handled the D600 oil and dust spot episode is a bit worrisome.
I’m not saying Canon are saints, but from everything I read and hear, Canon tend to take better care of their customers than Nikon. But, I could be off base with that.
There are also the minor differences that all add up. The D610 has duel memory card slots. There is no reason the 6D should have only take one memory card. The 6D has the on-off switch on the wrong side. Well, maybe that’s a bit more subjective, but it was still awkward.
All my serious shooter friends in real life, however, shoot Canon. If I do get the 6D, I am planning to borrow all their lenses. Or, get them to sell me their used lenses at the “friend” price.
By now, I’ve sent the Canon back to LensRentals, and the Nikon will be arriving for this coming weekend. I’ve rented just two prime lenses this time, the Nikon 50mm f/1.4 and a 35mm. I want to see if the 35mm focal length will be wide enough for me. I’ll be honest, while I wasn’t blown away by the Sigma lens, it was sure nice not having to switch lenses for different shots.
I will write up a review of the D610 as soon as I ship it back. After that, we’ll see what happens.
All I know is that I want a camera that can do this. And I want it now.